SEATTLE – Traffic deaths nationwide are up for 2016 and same can be said for Washington. Parts of Interstate 90 have become trouble areas. In Kittitas County alone, there have been nearly 90 crashes on I-90 this year, resulting in eight deaths.
The nationwide trend is shown in a new report by the National Safety Council. For the first six months of 2016, traffic deaths are up nine percent over the same period last year. Washington state traffic fatalities are up 8 percent for the same period with 253 deaths reported from January to June.
If the trend continues, the country may see its deadliest driving year since 2007 and the deadliest Labor Day since 2008. The National Safety Council estimates 438 people will be killed during the upcoming weekend.
Washington state troopers, the Department of Transportation and safety advocates like PEMCO Insurance are keenly aware of the uptick.
"You just have to be a lot more careful on the roads and we would just say slow down," says Derek Wing, PEMCO Insurance communications manager. "Getting there is really important. Getting there fast is really important. We get that but it's not so important you want to risk your life to do it."
The National Safety Council reports an estimated 19,100 people have been killed on U.S. roads from January to June and more than 2.2 million seriously hurt. The total estimated cost of these deaths and injuries is $205 billion.
"Our complacency is killing us," says Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "One hundred deaths every day should outrage us."
A lot of factors could be to blame for the increase in traffic fatalities. Wing says it could be lower gas prices, summer weather, distracted driving, construction work or even newer cars running quieter so drivers don't realize how fast their driving.
The trend is not a good sign for Washington state's Target Zero campaign, which aims to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2030.
States with the most traffic deaths in the first half of the year
1. Texas (1,824)
2. California (1,702)
3. Florida (1,590)
4. Georgia (701)
5. North Carolina (668)
States with the fewest traffic deaths in the first half of the year
1. Rhode Island (23)
2. Vermont (31)
3. Alaska (34)
4. Wyoming (42)
5. South Dakota (44)